When people think of wage disputes, they often think of minimum wage violations or unpaid overtime. However, wage disputes can also arise in other contexts, such as when employers fail to compensate workers who are on leave.
There are many circumstances in which employers must pay employees even if they are not at work. Short-term military leave can be one such scenario.
Laws on military leave pay
Some employees who take leave to serve in the military can continue to receive their regular pay.
Laws like the Uniformed Services Employee and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA) protect wages for servicemembers. For instance, USERRA requires public companies to pay workers for short-term military leave.
USERRA does not cover private companies, which may decide whether or not to compensate military members on leave. However, some recent cases have held that USERRA requires a private employer to provide paid military leave to the same extent that it provides paid leave for other absences. If a private employer chooses to adopt a policy granting full or partially paid leave, they should enforce it uniformly and without discrimination.
When employers fail to comply
Failure to comply with federal and state laws regarding paid leave can trigger legal action and financial damages for wronged employees.
For example, a proposed nationwide class-action lawsuit has been filed in New York against Amazon, accusing the company of failing to pay employees who have taken short-term military leave since 2004.
Workers who did not receive pay could be eligible to recover compensation for lost and unpaid wages, lost benefits, and damages. In a similar case, Walmart agreed to pay workers $14 million and updated its policy to fully compensate workers for up to 30 days of military leave per year.
Protecting your rights and your wages
Employees do not always know that they may deserve more money than they see in their paychecks. Some employees get bad information from their supervisors; others do not know that there are protections for specific situations, like military leave, jury duty, or bereavement.
Because of this, too many workers do not receive the compensation to which they are entitled. Taking legal action if this occurs can protect an employee’s rights and their wages.